Sena-MHADA squabble over fate of 1 lakh flats in Mumbai

Option 1: One lakh affordable homes by means of MHADA lottery.

Option 2: One lakh flats at existing market price from builders.

If price is the sole criterion, then this is a simple choice to make. However, in all likelihood this is not a decision that the common man will have any say in. The matter concerns a dispute between MHADA and Shiv Sena. While MHADA likes the first option, the other alternative has been thrown up by Bal Thackeray’s party. On Monday, Sena held a protest outside MHADA headquarters at Bandra, demanding the authority abolish the system wherein it seeks housing stock from residential complexes before providing a NOC for redevelopment.

Uddhav Thackeray addresses a rally at Bandra
Bringing the house down? Uddhav Thackeray addresses a rally at Bandra yesterday to protest MHADA’s decision to acquire housing stocks from societies that request NOCs for redevelopment. Pic/Nimesh Dave

The saffron party wants MHADA to go back to its previous policy of taking money from societies for furnishing redevelopment NOC. On the other hand the housing authority is adamant that it won’t settle for anything less than homes from societies if they want to redevelop. Sena’s morcha, which had approximately 12,000-15,000 people, was headed by Subhash Desai, leader of the party in the assembly. Desai claimed tenants of 56 societies with more than 3,000 buildings do not want to give housing stock to MHADA, and instead want the authority to take premium and let them carry out the redevelopment.

“By asking for housing stock, MHADA is making it difficult for existing tenants to undertake redevelopment. They don’t trust MHADA when it comes to redevelopment. Their construction is shoddy; they would send the tenants to transit camps, from where no one returns. And above all this, will MHADA give the corpus funds to the tenants? No, it won’t. Our party sees all this as a ploy to throw the Marathi manoos out of the city, and we won’t let that happen,” said Desai.

MHADA CEO Satish Gavai claims he and his department are able enough to redevelop buildings with premium construction quality and also that he may offer corpus fund. “We have proper transit camps where tenants can stay during the course of redevelopment. We are working on the corpus fund issue; our quality of construction is also not poor. We are capable enough to redevelop MHADA buildings,” said Gavai.

Chief PRO for MHADA Vaishali Sandansingh claims housing stock is the only viable option. “There’s hardly any space left in Mumbai for redevelopment or construction. MHADA’s motto of supplying affordable houses to disadvantaged sections of society can only be achieved via the housing stock that would be obtainable from redevelopment of 56 societies. We expect nearly 1 lakh affordable homes to become available through this process.

These homes would be provided to the public via MHADA lottery. The common man who cannot afford existing rates of the real estate will have a house in Mumbai and that too at a reasonable price,” she said.

Meanwhile, the chief minister has called for an urgent meeting of Mumbai MLAs to discuss the issue on October 11. Sena has threatened that if the matter isn’t resolved to its liking, the consequences would be dire.

Sena’s executive president Uddhav Thackeray, who was at the rally, said, “We have reached MHADA’s doors and may soon enter the building. If the government can’t do its job then we are capable enough to run things on our own.”

There are a total of 56 societies of MHADA in Mumbai with 3,071 buildings. Spread across the city, these housing complexes are largely occupied by middle-class Mumbaikars.

“MHADA wants housing stocks, not money. This means a builder will have less to sell and his profits will reduce. Developers won’t accept the dip in revenue. So, in the last two years few MHADA societies have been redeveloped,” said a tenant at one of these housing complexes.

“Who’s being targeted by the government? The Marathi manoos. Most of the residents of the MHADA properties are Marathis. The government is insensitive towards mill workers and MHADA tenants. Where will we go?” asked Uddhav. 

Housing stock is the best policy?
Earlier MHADA used to give NOCs to its tenants for redeveloping societies for a nominal premium. However, in 2010, the housing authority decided that as it had no land to develop, it would be better to seek housing stock from redevelopment projects. So now, whenever any society of MHADA approaches the authority for an NOC pertaining to redevelopment, the authority gives its consent only when the society promises to hand over some housing stocks.

‘Run of the mill’
Mill workers in the city have organised a protest on Wednesday, and they have planned a march from Byculla. Their demand is that 1.48 lakh mill workers and their families should be provided homes.

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